Phoenix becoming premier winter hiking destination in U.S.

In January 2013, the city of Phoenix shut down one of its busiest hiking spots because it was too popular.

Camelback Mountain’s Echo Canyon Recreation Area had become inundated with hikers and, with it, worn-down trails and overflowing parking that brought a sea of complaints from surrounding residents.

The city spent almost a year nearly doubling the number of parking spaces at the trailhead, from 68 to 135. The first quarter-mile of the summit trail was renovated, rebuilt and rerouted to improve footing, eliminate erosion-prone areas, improve hiker safety and increase long-term sustainability for the mountain.

The shutdown and subsequent improvements to the trail shined a spotlight on the growth of hiking across the Valley.

“The Greater Phoenix area is in a trail-building boom,” said Matthew Woodson, founder and president of Okanogan Trail Construction, which led the renovations to Echo Canyon, as well as having led improvements to hundreds of miles of trails on the West Coast.

“Combine this building boom with the beauty of the Sonoran Desert, the growing number of retirees and the fantastic winter weather we have here in the Valley and you have what is becoming the premier winter hiking destination in the U.S.,” Woodson said.

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